Unless you’re new to town or pay no attention to local politics or social media you can’t have missed the controversy over the homeless in Grand Forks.
Many of those who are scared, upset and frustrated with the petty crime, tarp shanties and the ongoing ‘fight’ with BC Housing have taken to pushing back at the only government within reach – city council. The agenda appears to quite simple: When they couldn’t enlist all of council in their desire to eradicate the current support system for the homeless they’ve gone after the holdouts with the primary target being the Mayor.
When Mayor Taylor did what we expect of someone who really cares about all the people in the city and refused to be pushed into a stance that runs counter to the needs of neediest in his community the hate machine swung into action. Diatribes, accusations, character assassination and vitriol oozed into every social networking group about local affairs on Facebook. I hear that on the closed to the public groups the language and accusations have been actionable.
But in spite of all of that Mr. Taylor sticks to his principles and will not be bullied.
Apparently someone has decided that speech is not enough and moved on to actions.
Recently one individual on Facebook was doxxing the Mayor – offering a map to get to the Mayor’s property for anyone who cared to private message them. Why would someone offer that? And why would someone need to know that?
Well now we know an answer: sometime the other night they dropped a mess of used syringes in a line across his driveway. Within the debris was also some of the things drug users also use to get their fix. And a partially full disposal container.
There was also a little derogatory sign erected nearby. There’s indications they prowled around inside a building on the property.
Mr. Taylor is not the only person who lives here: his daughter and grandson also call this home.
The controversy online about this is telling.
- Some call it violence or even terrorism. Others disagree with using those terms.
- Some equate this obviously intentional act with the callous and casual disposal of individual needles in public places by addicts (as if one bad deed cancels out another) . . . conveniently forgetting that the addicts are likely so high they are barely competent.
- Some even suggest that he, or someone associated with the same side he is perceived to be on, did this as some sort of stunt to cast opposing groups in a bad light . . . in this era where anything can be (and is) questioned I guess that kind of what-if-ism is to be expected.
It’s a sad state our town has come to but, as with the problem at the heart of the controversy, we are not special or unique in this. It can, and does, happen in other places.
This is an effort to shut down democracy by trying to scare a local politician to either go along with the angry groups or leave the stage so others can do that. Intimidation and scare tactics are examples of what fascists and thugs resort to when persuasion fails.
That it is happening to the mayor under whom I’ve most seen the processes at city hall become more open and democratic is ironic.
While the hope is that the police will find the person(s) responsible for this the fact is that it happened.
People en-flamed by passionate feelings about something can find themselves doing things that they later regret. With today’s social networked world it becomes easy to plug into echo chambers populated by others who share and echo your fears and concerns.
Facebook is a challenge to society in particular.
The idea that angry like minded people can cloister themselves in closed-to-the-public groups might have seemed like a nice idea at some point to somebody but some of what it’s actually being used for is concerning at best and frightening at worst.
Just as false news and malicious rumour pervade the arena of national level politics it’s now happening at local levels albeit not as slick.
You might have noticed that many people behave differently online from who they are offline. Often they’re louder and more likely to say things they’d shy from saying offline except with close friends. Express negative thoughts and views – cast shade on others publicly.
When they converse in one of these closed-to-the-public-view groups they loosen up and can get quite malicious. And creative with the facts. The pseudo ‘private’ feeling the group has apparently allows them a free-to-shoot-their-mouths-off feeling. And I’m willing to bet some of it crosses the line from okay to actionable. Or possibly criminal.
But all that is out there – Facebook gives them a place to play hidden from view until a court order forces it all out into some lawyer’s hands that is. So until they are stung I think a lot of people will continue to spew hated, vitriol, and untruths. They can’t stop themselves . . . and someday it could all be fodder for some lawyer on the other side of the room in a court.
Until then one can only hope that cooler heads will prevail, as they say, and it doesn’t get worse.
To close this off I’ll point out something to the Doxxer in this piece. And anyone else thinking it’s a good idea. Or thinking what happened is more of a prank than anything more.
Doxxing can end you up in court. Maybe prison. Or the poor house (oh the irony if they became homeless).
That’s because whatever bad thing that happens to the target of your doxing falls on your neck the same as if you did the crime. Arson happens and you’re now an arsonist and that’s what you’ll get charged with. Assault happens and that’s what you’ll get charged with.
It falls under section 22 of the Criminal Code, counseling someone to commit an offense. If you’re thinking of trying it out your should check it out first – I hope it chills any crazy ideas out of you.